THE RISE OF THE UNIVERSITIES 155 at school. In the smaller towns and the villages, where there was no grammar school, there was usually a reading or song school, like the " litel scole " Chaucer tells about in The Prioresses Tale, in which there were " children an heep," " That lemed in that scole yeer by yere Swich maner doctrine as men used there, This is to seyn, to singen and to rede, As smale children doon in hir childhede." And that the children of the Middle Ages learned their lessons to some purpose is evident from the fact that the accounts of the ordinary tradesmen show better writing and more skill in arith- metic than those of the three following centuries. This happy state of matters was the result of the beneficent care of the Church for education. Even by the Twelfth Century the idea of popular education as one of its essential functions was definitely recognized in canon law. The Third Lateran Council, meeting in 1189, enjoined the provision of free schools not only for the clergy but for poor scholars. " Since the church of God, like a loving mother, is bound to provide for the needy both the things which concern the maintenance of the body and which tend to the profit of souls, in order that the poor who cannot be assisted by their parents' means may not be deprived of the opportunity of reading and proficiency, in every cathedral church an adequate benefice shall be bestowed upon a master who shall teach the clerks of the same church and poor scholars freely, so that both the necessities of the teachers shall be relieved and the way to learning laid open for the learners." " In other churches or monasteries, also," it was added, " if anything shall have been assigned in past times for this purpose, it shall be restored."* The schools established during the Dark Ages in connection with cathedrals, collegiate churches, and monasteries to which this decree had reference, ail continued to play their part in European education in the succeeding centuries. There were some changes in them, it is true, but none of them in any way fundamental. With the ascendancy of monasticism in the Twelfth Century, many cathedrals and churches with their schools came under the control of the monks. This did not in- volve a transfer of educational work from priests to monks, how- ever, as is sometimes assumed. The schools in such cases were * A. F. Leach, Educational Charters, 122, 123.